King Of The Jews

 

Early in the morning Jesus was taken back to Pilate’s palace (228).  The Jewish authorities wouldn’t go inside the palace; they wanted to remain ritually clean, so they could eat the Passover meal.

So Pilate went outside to them and asked, “What do you accuse this man of?” The priests said, “We wouldn’t have brought him to you if he hadn’t committed a crime.” Knowing that the high priests were jealous of Jesus, Pilate said, “Why don’t you just take him & try him according to your own law?”

pilate outside

To this the priests replied indignantly, “That won’t work, because your law doesn’t allow us to put anyone to death.  Only you have that authority!”

Pilate went back into the palace & called for Jesus. “How can you claim to be the king of the Jews?  Your own people & their chief priests have handed you over to me. What’s that all about?”

pilate_jesus-2

Jesus said, “My kingdom doesn’t belong to this world; if my kingdom belonged to this world, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities.”

This made no sense to Pilate, so he asked Jesus, “Can you really call yourself a king, then?”

Jesus answered, “I came into this world for one purpose, to speak the truth about God. Whoever loves truth listens to me.”

Again, this made no sense to Pilate, so he asked Jesus dismissively, “What is truth?”

LORD, please help us to love Your perfect truth.

(228) Matthew 27:1-2 & 11-14, Mark 15:1-5, Luke 23:1-4, John 18:28-38a

When The King Comes Back

 

Although many people were puzzling over the incident with Zacchaeus, they still followed Jesus as he walked along, because they expected Jesus to overthrow the Roman occupation forces & re-establish Israel as the independent kingdom of God on earth.  Sensing this, Jesus continued teaching with another story (181).

Jesus began, “Once there was a nobleman who was going to a country far away to be installed as king of his homeland, after which he planned to return there to rule. Before he left, he called in ten servants, gave them each a gold coin, and told them, ‘See what you can earn with this while I am gone.’

“Many people in his homeland hated this particular nobleman, so they lobbied against his being installed as their king.  But their efforts didn’t succeed.  The nobleman was installed as king, after which he returned to his homeland.

king

“At once he ordered his ten servants to appear before him, in order to find out what they had accomplished for his kingdom. The first one came and said, ‘Sir, I have earned ten gold coins with the one you gave me.’  ‘Well done,’ said the newly-installed king; ‘you’re a good servant. Since you were faithful in these small matters, I am appointing you ruler of ten cities in my kingdom.’

“Then the second servant came and said, ‘Sir, I have earned five gold coins with the one you gave me.’   Again the king was pleased, so he told his servant, ‘You will be in charge of five cities in my kingdom.’

light

“But a third servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your gold coin; I kept it hidden, because I was afraid of losing it.’ Then the king said to him angrily, ‘You should at least have put my money in the bank, so it could have earned a little interest for my kingdom!’

“Then the king ordered his officials: ‘Take the gold coin away from him and give it to the servant who has ten coins.’ Some of the officials questioned this: ‘Sir, he already has ten coins.’

“The king responded with three decrees:  ‘Every servant of mine, who works faithfully to increase my kingdom, will be given more responsibility in my kingdom.

‘And every servant of mine, who does nothing to increase my kingdom, will lose whatever responsibility he has had.

‘But all those people, who resisted my even becoming king, must now forfeit their lives & be removed from my presence forever.'”

outer-darkness-500

LORD, please help us to love serving You as our only King.

(181) Luke 19:11-27

How To Lead People To God

 

Jesus was going up to Jerusalem (178).  Along the way, he took his twelve chosen witnesses away from the crowds & spoke to them privately.

“When we go up to Jerusalem, I’ll be arrested by the chief priests & the teachers of the law, who will arrange for me to be condemned to death.  After the Roman soldiers have mocked & tortured me, I’ll be executed by crucifixion.  But three days later I will rise from the grave & live again.”

The chosen witnesses didn’t really understand what Jesus meant, and they were a little afraid to understand, so they didn’t ask him to explain.

But then the wife of Zebedee came to Jesus with her two sons, James & John.  She bowed before Jesus & asked him for a favor: “Promise me that my sons will sit on your right & on your left when you are king.”  “You don’t really understand what you’re asking,” Jesus said to her.

request-by-mother-of-james-and-john

Then he asked James & John, “Do you believe that you can drink the cup of suffering that I am about to drink?” “Yes, we can,” they answered. “And so you will,” Jesus told them.

“But I don’t have the right to choose who will sit by my side. God has already prepared those who will sit on my right & on my left.”

Hearing all this, the other ten chosen witnesses became angry with James & John.  So Jesus called all twelve together and said, “You know that worldly leaders exercise power & authority over the people under them.  But this is not the way I intend for you to lead people to God.

“If you want to lead people to God you must be their servant, like me.  I didn’t come to be served.  I came to serve — even to sacrifice my life — in order to rescue many people from themselves.”

servant

Jesus, please help us to love serving people, just like You.

(178) Matthew 20:17-28, Mark 10:32-45, Luke 18:31-34

Equal Pay For Unequal Work

 

Then Jesus told his students this story — to help them guard against becoming proud of being the first to receive the good news of God’s kingdom, and to encourage them to keep on sharing the good news of God’s kingdom with other people (177).

“Once there was a man who owned a vineyard.  Early one morning, about 6:00 AM, he hired some day laborers to work in his vineyard for the normal wage of a silver coin per day, and he set them to work.

early morning

“About 9:00 AM, he saw some other men in the marketplace doing nothing, so he hired them, too, & promised them a fair wage; so they also were set to work.

“Then at 12:00 noon & again at 3:00 PM he hired two other groups of workers in the same way.

“About 5:00 PM, he saw yet another group of men standing idle in the marketplace, so he asked them: ‘Why are you standing here doing nothing?’ ‘No one hired us today,’ they answered. ‘Well, then, you also go & work in my vineyard,’ he told them.

evening 2

“When evening came, the vineyard owner told his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with those who were hired last and ending with those who were hired first.’

“The men who had begun to work at 5:00 PM were paid a silver coin each. So when the men who were the first to be hired came to be paid, they assumed they would be paid more; but they were also paid one silver coin each.

“As they took their pay, they complained to the vineyard owner: ‘These men worked only one hour, but we did a full day’s work in the hot sun.  Why did you pay them the same as you paid us?’

workers-parable

“The owner answered, ‘Listen, friends, I haven’t cheated you. You agreed to do a day’s work for one silver coin, and that’s what you’ve been paid.  If I want to pay the men who were hired last the same as I paid you, don’t I have that right?  Or are you jealous because I am generous?'”

When Jesus concluded, “Those who are last will be first, and those who are first will be last,” his students began to see that this idea could be applied in different ways . . .

LORD, please help us to love Your decisions about the people You choose.

(177) Matthew 20:1-16

Before And After The Needle

 

Jesus’ students were flabbergasted (176).  They began asking who could possibly be assured of salvation from hell, if not the rich.

Jesus looked directly at each of them and answered, “It’s impossible for any man to save himself, but it’s not impossible for God.  Everything is possible for God!”

Then Peter spoke up, “Look, Master, we have left all our worldly wealth & followed you. What will we receive in heaven?”

Jesus said in response, “When I sit on my glorious throne in heaven, then you twelve witnesses will also sit on thrones, and the examples of your lives will become the standard for the twelve tribes of Israel.

“Everyone who has left worldly wealth or family, for my sake & for the sake of the good news about God’s kingdom, will receive a hundred times more in this age – of homes & families & possessions.  But in this life he will receive persecutions as well.

persecutions

“In the age to come, however, he will receive life which continues forever, even beyond physical death.

eternal-life

“So you, who many thought would be last in line to enter heaven, will actually be first.  And those people, who should have been first in line to enter heaven, will end up being last.”

LORD, please help us to love living for Your glory.

(176) Matthew 19:25-30, Mark 10:24-31, Luke 18:26-30

Learn From Children

 

Another time, some people brought children to Jesus for him to lay his hands on them & bless them (174).

But Jesus’ students started scolding those people for doing this.

When Jesus noticed this, he was angry with his students & said to them: “Let the children come to me, and don’t stop them.  God’s kingdom is intended for them, too.

trust & obey

 “In fact, unless you receive God as your king with childlike faith, you will never enter God’s kingdom.”

Then Jesus began taking the children in his arms & blessing them.

prayer

Jesus, please help us to love trusting You with childlike faith.

(174) Matthew 19:13-15, Mark 10:13-16, Luke 18:15-17

How To Receive God’s Holy Spirit

 

One day, when Jesus had finished praying, his students made this request (143):

“Lord, teach us to pray, just as John the Baptizer taught his students.”  Jesus responded, “Simply focus your prayers on these themes:

pray

“God, our father in heaven, we want to honor your holy name with our lives.  We want you to be our king.

“Please, give us today any provision we need for today — no more, no less.

“Please, help us forgive the wrong things that other people do to us.  Please forgive the wrong things that we have done to you.

“And, please, don’t put our faith to the test.”

Jesus wanted to emphasize the importance of persistence in prayer & the great goodness of God.  So he also gave them this illustration:

“Suppose one of you goes to a friend’s house at midnight and says to him, ‘Please, let me borrow three loaves of bread. A guest has just come to stay overnight at my place, but I don’t have any food for him.’

“And suppose your friend calls out, ‘Go away! We’re trying to sleep here!’

“You know that, if you keep on knocking & asking, eventually your friend will get up & give you the bread — just to get rid of you!

“God is much greater than your grumpy friend.  Keep asking God, and you will always receive what you need.  Keep seeking God, and you will always find him.  Keep knocking, and God will always open the door to his kingdom.

prayer

“Everyone who keeps asking God will receive what he needs.  Everyone who keeps seeking God will find him.  Everyone who keeps knocking will have the door opened to God’s kingdom.”

Jesus concluded by teaching that persistent, faithful prayer is the key to receiving God’s Holy Spirit:

“Would any father give his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Would you give him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?

“As sinful as you are, you know how to give good things to your children!

prayer

“So you must know that we can trust our good Father God to give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks for him!”

Father, please help us to love asking for & receiving Your Holy Spirit.

(143) Luke 11:1-13